In the second-most lopsided defeat of the entire season, the Modesto Nuts crushed the Bakersfield Blaze to stay alive in the California League North Divisional Playoffs, jumping ahead early, and cruising to a 12-1 win on Monday night in Modesto.
The game was decided after just one inning of play. After Jorge De La Rosa pitched a scoreless top half on his Major League rehab assignment, the Nuts went, well, nuts. Stalin Gerson's (L, 0-1) second pitch of the inning was driven out to right by Joey Wong to give the Nuts a 1-0 lead, and the party was just beginning for Modesto.
After a flyball and a groundout, Jared Clark mashed a towering drive over the foul pole in left to put the Nuts up 2-0, and a walk and a Tim Smalling line drive homer off the foul pole gave the Nuts a rapid-fire 4-0 early edge. Gerson finally ended the inning, but his trouble continued after only a brief respite.
The Blaze were retired quietly in the 2nd, and Gerson allowed a single and a walk to begin the 2nd before manager Ken Griffey decided that this night just was not Gerson's to own, going to the pen. Blaine Howell entered, and with Joey Wong attempting a slap-bunt, the ball was tapped right back to the mound. For the Blaze, though, the game went from bad to worse -- the infield got caught in between bases on the grounder, and with nowhere to throw, Howell lobbed toward first, only to have the ball bang off a glove and roll away. The Nuts ended up plating two runs in the frame, and went up comfortably, 6-0.
Late in the game, Modesto made it ugly, scoring six times in the 8th off Andrew Brackman, who had to face eleven batters in the inning, while Modesto went up 12-1, the final score.
Bakersfield got its only run of the night in the 4th, when Travis Mattair took Jorge De La Rosa deep to left. After De La Rosa hit his 60-pitch limit, Kurt Yacko retired one batter, and Christian Bergman (W 1-1), the Cal League Pitcher of the Year, worked the final five innings for the win.
The middle of the bullpen was the game's only positive for the Blaze, with Howell, Brooks Pinckard and Kyle McMyne working a combined six shutout innings, striking out eight.
With the Blaze loss, Modesto climbs into the series, trailing Bakersfield now 2-1 in the Divisional Set, with the series continuing Tuesday night in Modesto at 7:05pm.
The prospective starters are Daniel Renken for the Blaze, making his first start of the postseason, and Josh Mueller for the Nuts, making his second postseason appearance after getting blasted by San Jose last Thursday.
Make sure to tune in to hear the entire game as it happens, as the Blaze chase a Cal League Championship! The broadcast can be found at BakersfieldBlaze.com, with Dan Besbris bringing the call ten minutes prior to first pitch.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.